Unions and politicians on the left have reacted with outrage to a proposal to raise the retirement age to 70. The social association VdK also opposed a corresponding initiative by the president of the employers’ association Gesamtmetall, Stefan Wolf. In a conversation with the newspapers of the Funke media group, he spoke out in favor of a longer working life and justified this, among other things, with an aging society.
“If you look at the demographic development and the burden on the social and pension funds, then the reserves have been used up. We will have to work longer and harder,” said Wolf. “We will gradually have to go up to the retirement age of 70 – also because people are living longer and longer.” Otherwise, the system will no longer be financially viable in the medium term.
Representatives of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the trade unions IG Bau and IG Metall disagreed. DGB board member Anja Piel explained that the initiative was “nothing more than a pension cut with an announcement”. Many employees would no longer be able to “stay healthy until retirement”, she said. “For those who work in care, construction or factories, working long hours is not an option.”
Those who work hard have a “significantly lower life expectancy” anyway and therefore receive a shorter pension, said Piel. Even with an aging society, the federal government has a responsibility to “make a good and adequate pension a promise of security”.
Wolf’s statement does not meet “the reality of life of the people in our country,” said the chairman of the workers’ group of the Union faction, Axel Knoerig, the dpa. If you want to work more, you should be able to do so. But it depends on the profession, “to what extent that is even possible,” said Knoerig. “For sustainable old-age provision, it is important that the three pillars of pensions – company, statutory and private old-age provision – are strengthened instead of placing an additional burden on older employees.”
Left faction leader Dietmar Bartsch also reacted with outrage. “Suggestions such as pensions only from 70 or a 42-hour week are antisocial bullshit,” Bartsch told the editorial network Germany. In this exceptional situation, the employers’ associations would have to fulfill their social responsibility with skyrocketing prices. “There must be no igniting of social peace.”
VdK President Verena Bentele suggested putting the statutory pension insurance on a more solid financial basis. “Instead of unrealistic considerations about further raising the retirement age, we must strengthen the statutory pension insurance. That means: In the future, everyone will have to pay in there – in addition to employees, civil servants, the self-employed and politicians,” said Bentele. Such a “pension for all” strengthens the system and leads to more justice, said the head of the association. In Austria this has long been a reality.
There are currently plans in this country to gradually raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 years without deductions by 2029. Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) rejects a further increase. As early as May, after a push by economists to retire at 70, he said: “We have agreed in the coalition that we will not increase the statutory retirement age. And nothing will change that.”
The IG-Bau national chairman Robert Feiger accused the metal employers of wanting to provoke a new “class of poverty in old age” among craftsmen and industrial workers. “The harder you work, the sooner you fall into the pension hole,” Feiger told the newspapers of the Funke media group. For professional groups such as carpenters, roofers or scaffolders, even retirement at 65 is “too long”, argued the union boss.